What do Giraffes, beach balls, market stalls and mountains all have in common?
They will all be photographed in a million and one ways on people’s holidays this year.
Are YOU ready?
Whether you have a simple point and shoot compact camera, phone or a fantastic dSLR, chances are if you are reading this you are keen to bag some great photos from your trips this year.
Are the colours in your images as vibrant as the market stall you remember?
Is that picture of little Johnny dive bombing into the pool, in focus?
Do your sunset pictures actually work?
If you answered YES to any of those – fab – skim through these tips anyway you’ll only enhance your great knowledge!!
If you answered NO to any, then focus (literally!) on these tips to transform your holiday images and stop boring the neighbours!
- Prepare your camera. Check batteries are fully charged and memory cards have enough room. Carry spares and depending on how serious you are, perhaps some portable memory backup too.
- Ensure you have time to practise some techniques and understand your camera better BEFORE you go away (use our on-line course or come to a workshop) then you won’t miss that all-important moment!
- Do some simple research on where you are going. What kind of obvious and interesting attractions or activities will be at your destination? For example, if you are off on Safari you’re going to need a GOOD zoom, pointing a short lens up a lion’s nose isn’t recommended!! Will you be shooting lots of action or lots of culture?
- ACTION photographs. Use your camera’s sports mode this will automatically set continuous shooting mode and increase the shutter speed on your camera so you can freeze the action and keep images crisp and sharp. Try to check the direction of the sunlight, and shoot images with the sun over your shoulder rather than over theirs – that way you’ll see their expressions rather than putting their faces in shadow. Make sure YOUR shadow doesn’t fall onto them!
- Ensure your camera settings are ready for ACTION if you want to capture images of an event. If you are using aperture priority, remember that the higher the ISO number the faster the shutter speed, the more you’ll freeze action.
- Culture, here you can hopefully take your time and line up your compositions. Keep your main subject off-centre by focusing on it then with your finger still pressed halfway down (to lock the focus) on the shutter, recompose your shot by moving the camera and then CONTINUE to press the shutter to take the image. Tell a story by placing your companion off centre in the frame with the monument etc. to the other side and soft in the background by having a WIDE aperture setting (low f number) or choose PORTRAIT setting.
- Want everything in sharp focus? Choose the Landscape setting on your camera or choose a high F number in aperture priority, you may want to increase your ISO setting to compensate for the lack of light coming in through your lens.
- Become your own ‘photo-journalist’, each and every time you take your camera out. Especially on cultural trips. Create a story which others can understand – with an opening scene setting shot, activity shots and a closing shot. Think about this each time.
- 1st and 2nd level creativity. We all do it…rush to take the first thing that catches our eye. That’s OK, take that shot, get it out of your system – that’s your 1st level. Now pause, take in your surroundings, what would make your next shot more interesting? In one of my workshops, a student told me about the time she really wanted to lie on the floor to take a shot of the Acropolis but felt too embarrassed. A woman next to her did exactly that. Her thoughts? Gosh, she must know what she’s doing and then did the same thing, lo and behold several other photographers followed suit! The moral is: take the shot from whatever angle you want to (as long as it’s safe and doesn’t break too many laws!!) you won’t look silly, you’ll look like an ‘expert’!!
- SMILE! Carry loose change, those market stall holders occasionally charge you for their photo or perhaps your smile and polite gestures will carry you through. Respect their decision. A long lens will mean you can capture images of people from a distance but sometimes getting in close works well. Photograph their hands and what they are doing, buy something from their stall and ask permission at the same time. Be brave and ask!
- SUNSETS Compact cameras usually have a sunset setting. dSLR’s; set to aperture priority, spot metering and under-expose. This will deepen colours and help to create silhouettes. Try to have some foreground interest which leads the viewer’s eye gradually to your sunset. Sunsets are a constantly changing view, keep watching for the next beautiful display of colour, OR put the camera down and take another sip of that G&T!!
- KEEP IT SIMPLE. Often the best shots are the simplest. Note patterns and displays, finer details or reactions.
- OBSERVE! Watch the rhythm of your surroundings, walk around a monument, market or landscape before deciding on the best spots. Your feet are your best tool when planning photographs, the direction of the light will change depending upon your viewpoint so it’s ALWAYS good to move around.
- STAY SAFE. Tell someone where you are going, don’t take unnecessary risks with your equipment or your well-being. Respect the local laws, environment and people.
- Finally – remember to stop taking photos once in a while and just enjoy your surroundings!
What equipment should you take?
Compact camera? Take a battery charger or spare batteries, learn your camera functions for more flexibility. Memory cards, small tripod.
dSLR? Battery charger, memory cards, memory back-up, small tripod, I try to buy camera bags that are less obvious as camera bags for added security.
Lenses? A wide-angled zoom would be brilliant such as 28-300mm BUT they are pricey. Compromise by taking a 70-200mm/300mm zoom and a kit lens or a wide angle 20/28mm lens
I always carry my camera equipment onto the plane with me (I might stow the tripod into the suitcase but NEVER the camera)
Check your insurance covers your equipment.
Remember to have an amazing time to accompany all those fantastic photos you’re going to take!
Download a PDF of these tips here